Special Needs. High Needs. Medically Fragile. These words are used to describe a certain sect of people. In fact, one out of every five people fits into the category of "disabled." My daughter is one of them. She is high-functioning, but has some different needs than the typically developing child.
I have seen countless articles and blog posts about how having a special needs kiddo changes things. It changes your life. It changes immediate and extended family dynamics, it changes your job, it changes the way you view the world, it changes the language you use, it changes so much! Enough has been written elsewhere about it... for now.
Here's what my daughter being special needs doesn't change:
It doesn't change how much I love her: When you first became a mama your heart opened up and created a love you didn't know you were capable of -- my heart did that, too. I'm not talking about the ooey gooey mama feelings because not everyone gets those but just about everyone does LOVE their child. I don't love my special needs girl any more than my typically developing children. Yes, she has different needs but I can't place a weight on the love I have for each one of them. It's too much to measure.
It doesn't change what I want for her: I want my daughter to be loved. I want her to have friends. I want life to come easy enough that it doesn't break her but hard enough that she learns her own lessons. Some things may look different in her future, but I fundamentally want what I want for my other children. I want her to know Jesus and bring God glory. I want people to smile when they look at her and to be kind to her. We want these things for all of our kids.
It doesn't mean she isn't a little girl: What I mean by this is that I can see my daughter before I see her diagnosis. She is still Anna! She still wants to play and have friends and be read to and has her own preferences. She still picks on her siblings and can be a sass-a-frass. She's Anna before she is her diagnosis. Her diagnosis doesn't change the spirit of who she is.
It doesn't change that I want to hear about your kiddo: I still want to hear about how great your kid is doing! Your child may be developing differently than mine, but I WANT to hear about it. I want to know how proud you are of their athletic skills or handwriting or whatever. Brag about 'em. It's fun for me to hear how proud you are of your kids and it doesn't hurt my feelings that you love things about your kid! Good friends know this. They know that I love them and their family and want to hear about all the goodies in their life. I also want to hear about the baddies. Tell me about how much those ear infections suck. Just because one of my children has had a tougher time doesn't mean your struggles aren't valid. They are valid. I want to be here for you.
I'm blessed to have so much support and love and to have my Anna girl. To look at her, most people wouldn't even know she has any disabilities -- I realize this. I know this makes her different than the typical "special needs" kid. I want to be able to recognize and talk about the differences in raising a special needs girl, but more than that I want people to know that we have so much in common. A trial is a trial. A love for your child is love for your child. Anna is Anna. That's all :)
Follow my blog here: https://anotherladysblog.wordpress.com/